custom artist clarinets

reproduction historical woodwinds


Bohlen-Pierce instruments


repair, restoration and customisation services

ordering information, terms and conditions

Small bore basset horn

Building on earlier examples which have received considerable positive publicity, this model has recently been extensively revised, in the interests of improved response and evenness of tone, reduced weight and mechanical complexity, and more faithfulness to the original concept of the basset horn.

The resulting instrument is more akin to a soprano clarinet - with the same outer body diameter and mechanism made along similar lines - than to the larger members of the clarinet family. 

The bore size is 15.5mm - the smallest currently offered by any maker - for maximum compatibility with standard Bb/A clarinet mouthpieces.  (For further explanation of basset horn bore sizes, please see the main basset horn page on this site.)

(It should be emphasized, though, that as with any small bore basset horn, optimum playing qualities may require a somewhat softer reed and more open mouthpiece facing than are normally used with Bb/A clarinets, at least in North America.)

Unique features include a downward-pointing clarinet-style bell (for stronger bottom notes), and a curved, solid-bodied barrel (instead of a metal neck). 

Ring keys are used instead of plateaux, except for L1 (the finger spread and size of finger holes is easily manageable and should not be a concern to players).  An automatic register/throat Bb mechanism is included, for accurate twelfths and a clear Bb, and a vent attached to the R1 ring improves the tone and tuning of low B natural.  An articulated C#/G# key is optional.

The standard basset key arrangement has low Eb played by the right hand little finger and three right thumb keys giving D, C#, and C - with the touchpieces shaped to allow smooth transitions between notes - plus an alternate low D key for the left hand little finger.  An alternate left hand Ab/Eb lever is also standard.  An option is a right hand little finger key (on the upper rank, beside F/C) which is convertible to produce either D or C#. 

(For thoughts on the basset key arrangement, please see the article on the subject on this website.)

A choice of support mechanisms is offered:  a floor peg, or an abdomen brace and neck strap/chest harness, which allows the instrument to be played either sitting or standing with equal ease.

(under review)  



Basset keys, showing convertible R4 low D/C# key